Anderson v. the State University of New York

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  • Workplace Equality and Economic Empowerment
  • Joined Amicus Brief
1999

Determined the right to sue a state university under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment for violating the Equal Pay Act.

Summary of the Case

The plaintiff, Dr. Janice Anderson, sued her former employer, a state university, alleging she was paid less than male faculty with similar credentials, and that she was denied a merit-based pay increase when she complained of discrimination. At issue was whether state employees could sue state employers under the Equal Pay Act (the Act). The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Act abrogated the states' Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity pursuant to a valid exercise of Congress's enforcement power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case for consideration in light of its decision in Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 528 U.S. 62 (2000).

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum joined an amicus brief filed by the New York chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association.

Decision

On remand, the district court allowed the suit to go forward, ruling that state employees like Dr. Anderson could sue their state employers because Congress acted pursuant to its Section 5 powers when enacting the Act and extending its application to the states. The court found that the Act was aimed at preventing and remedying persistent gender-based wage discrimination, and that the statute was congruent with the protections of the Equal Protection Clause and proportional to the injury.